Arab World Finds Icon in Leader of Hezbollah

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The success or failure of any cease-fire in Lebanon will largely hinge on the opinion of one figure: Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, who has seen his own aura and that of his party enhanced immeasurably by battling the Israeli Army for nearly four weeks.

... the Arab world has a new icon.

Gone are the empty threats made by President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s official radio station during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war to push the Jews into the sea even as Israel seized Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.

Gone is Saddam Hussein’s idle vow to “burn half of Israel,” only to launch limited volleys of sputtering Scuds. Gone too are the unfulfilled promises of Yasir Arafat to lead the Palestinians back into Jerusalem.

Now there is Sheik Nasrallah, a 46-year-old Lebanese militia chieftain hiding in a bunker, combining the scripted logic of a clergyman with the steely resolve of a general to completely rewrite the rules of the Arab-Israeli land feud.

“There is the most powerful man in the Middle East,” sighed the deputy prime minister of an Arab state, watching one of Sheik Nasrallah’s four televised speeches since the war began, during an off-the-record meeting. “He’s the only Arab leader who actually does what he says he’s going to do.”

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